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10 Stories: Monkeys! Chronicling America

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In celebration of the release of the 10 millionth page of Chronicling America, our free, online searchable database of historical U.S. newspapers, the reference librarians in our Serials & Government Publications Division have selected some interesting subjects and articles from the archives. We’ve been sharing them in a series of Throwback Thursday #TBT blog posts.

Today we return to our historical newspaper archives for stories about monkeys. And who doesn’t like monkeys?

Drawing of a monkey as a king.
Long before Planet of the Apes: “If Monkeys Had Become Men,” detail from the Richmond Times-Dispatch, June 22, 1913.

Monkeys on Trial
Locals in Benares, India, demand that a judge issue a warrant for the arrest of “three monkeys, names unknown, on the charge of theft and causing mischief.” The offending monkeys were said to be “the greatest thieves and robbers in the whole City of Palaces.” Columbus Journal, Nov. 20, 1895.

Do Apes Make ‘Monkey-Chain’ Bridges?
Professor Gudger debunks a 300-year old myth of how the little guys climb over each other to cross “alligator-infested streams.” Washington Times, May 18, 1919.

If Monkeys Had Become Men
During the first decades of the 20th century, evolutionary theory that man and ape shared a common ancestor was the subject of many lengthy opinion pieces in the popular press, including this one in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, June 22, 1913.

The New Fad: Monkeys
In the same publication, a somewhat less harsh view of our simian friends: “Society ladies have discarded their Chows and their Griffins for the chattering company of the Marmoset.” Richmond Times-Dispatch, July 10, 1921.

Exterminating Monkeys for Fashion’s Freak
The Morning Tulsa Daily World of Aug. 6, 1922, is appropriately horrified at the practice of hunting and killing a species of monkey for dress trimmings.

A Monkey’s Vengeance
Granted, it’s in the fiction section, but here’s a lesson on why you don’t want to cross a group of monkeys. Los Angeles Herald, June 24, 1906.

Suddenly a Hairy Monster Sprang Into the Room
The harrowing account of an attack on a family by a chimpanzee, escaped from the home of E.W. Knowlton, “millionaire patent medicine manufacturer … [and] collector of simians.” Washington Times, Nov. 23, 1919.

The Chimpanzee That Goes to University
In the interest of fairness, here is the story of Susie, a well-mannered and educated ape. San Francisco Call, April 23, 1911.

Studying the Monkey Mind
A profile of Melvin E. Haggerty, “the young Hoosier scientist of Harvard University and the investigations he has been making … at the local zoo into the capacity and activities of the simian mind.” St. Paul Appeal, Sept. 5, 1908.

Prof. Shepherd’s Experiments with Two Intelligent Apes
Another scientist discusses his findings. “Their clever tricks and man-like actions lead him to conclude that they have a low form of reasoning, crude powers of ideation, sympathy and even a sense of humor.” Not to mention dapper style. Check out that top hat! Omaha Daily Bee, Nov. 7, 1915.

Speaking of Chronicling America, the National Endowment for the Humanities (our partner in the project) has launched a nationwide contest, challenging you to produce creative web-based projects using data pulled from the newspaper archives website. We’re looking for data visualizations, web-based tools or other innovative web-based projects using the open data found on Chronicling America. NEH will award cash prizes, and the contest closes June 15, 2016.

Launched by the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in 2007, Chronicling America provides enhanced and permanent access to historically significant newspapers published in the United States between 1836 and 1922. It is part of the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP), a joint effort between the two agencies and partners in 40 states and territories. Start exploring the first draft of history today at and help us celebrate on Twitter and Facebook by sharing your findings and using the hashtags #ChronAm #10Million.

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